FINDING HOPE: Officials launch statewide Behavioral Health Council

Posted at 3:26 PM, Feb 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-20 11:41:53-05

BOISE, Idaho — Governor Brad Little, all five Idaho Supreme Court Justices, and several legislators gathered Wednesday to sign documents establishing and supporting the Idaho Behavioral Health Council, what officials are calling a new three-branch approach to improve care for Idahoans with mental health and substance use disorders.

Officials say a significant amount of time, money, and resources is spent responding to the needs of Idahoans with mental health and substance use disorders. Behavioral health issues continue to impact the corrections system, the judicial system, hospitals, schools, and communities. Many feel they contribute to a growing prison population, drug overdose deaths, and a high suicide rate.

The signing of the Governor’s executive order, the Supreme Court Proclamation and Order, and the legislative Concurrent Resolution creates a thirteen-member council that will work with local governments, educators, and community partners to develop a statewide plan with time-bound recommendations that improve access to care. The Idaho Behavioral Health Council will include representatives from all three branches of state government.

The strategic plan will identify silos in Idaho’s behavioral health system and create a more coordinated model of care to improve lives and offer a better return on the investment of public resources.

“It is our vision that adults, children, and their families who live with mental illness and addiction receive the behavioral health care services they need when they need them. We believe if this vision is realized, then people in Idaho will have a better quality of life, reduced risk of involvement with the criminal justice system, and make our communities healthier, safer places to live,” the vision statement for the council reads.

The strategic plan will be reported back to legislative leadership, the Governor, and the Idaho Supreme Court by Oct. 31 of this year.

(Pictured: Governor Little holds the executive order, Representative Megan Blanksma holds Senate Concurrent Resolution 126, and Chief Justice Roger Burdick holds the Supreme Court Proclamation and Order. Photo courtesy: Gov. Little’s office)